The Magazine

How Bad Will It Be?

The GOP debacle to come.

Oct 23, 2006, Vol. 12, No. 06 • By FRED BARNES
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Should Democrats capture the House, "they would raise your taxes and figure out new ways to spend your money," Bush said at a rally in Chicago last week. "It's amazing what happens when you cut taxes. The economy grows [and] you end up with more tax revenues." On national security, he said, "If the security of the United States is the most important issue, then part of this issue is which party has been willing to step up and give those charged with protecting you the tools necessary to do so." He didn't need to identify which party has and which hasn't.

The problem here is that national security isn't the leading campaign issue. And saying it should be won't make it so. What's needed is an event--a big event--to crystallize the issue in a way that highlights Republican strength and Democratic weakness. It was two events--the foiled British terrorist plot and the need to comply with a Supreme Court decision on handling captured terrorists--that led to the Republican mini-rally in September.

Of course there's little time left for a major event to occur. The North Korean bomb test wasn't big enough to change the course of the campaign. So Republicans may have to rely on their two remaining assets: They have more money than the Democrats and a voter turnout operation second to none.

Despite their commanding position with the election only weeks away, Democrats are fearful of a last-minute Republican gambit. What if White House aide Karl Rove has arranged for the capture of Osama bin Laden so it can be announced a few days prior to November 7? Rove is clever, but not that clever. Which is why Republicans and conservatives need to prepare themselves for bad news on Election Night.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.